Interdisciplinary Endangered Species Conservation: A New Approach For A New Century
Richard L. Wallace
Environmental Studies Program, Ursinus College, P.O. Box 1000, Collegeville, PA 19426
Tim W. Clark
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 301 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511 and Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Box 2705, Jackson, WY 83001
Richard P. Reading
Denver Zoological Foundation, 2900 East 23rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80205
Endangered species conservation encompassing research,
policy, management,and all its many facets is a management process
that requires integrative and interdisciplinary methods to be most successful.
This process is sometimes also called the "decision or policy process,"
but the labels can be used interchangeably. In the three decades since passage
of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), endangered species programs have
faced serious challenges that have often impeded the ability of people involved
to succeed. These include a preponderance of programs strong in natural sciences
research and methods, but weak in the social science knowledge and individual
skills necessary to effectively participate in and influence the management process (i.e. the series of decisions
and actions that occur within a program from its inception through its design, implementation, evaluation and, if called for, termination). While the level of knowledge about the management process has increased markedly in the past decade, the level of skill necessary for managing and operating within it has lagged far behind the ecological scientific abilities of endangered species program participants. Consequently, endangered species conservation efforts suffer
from a disconnect and imbalance in knowledge and skills concerning natural science research (on the one hand) and social, organizational, and values-related concerns (on the other). This leads directly to many complex and sometimes glaring problems in recovery efforts. It is generally accepted now that social factors such as leadership, organization,
communication/cooperation, and many others play a critical role in the success or failure of endangered species conservation efforts (Clark et al. 1994, 2000, 2001; Reading and Miller 2000). Nonetheless, omissions and oversights in the management process continue to plague many ongoing efforts. As a result, perhaps the greatest problem facing these efforts is the inability or unwillingness of some government and non-governmental participants to adopt new
knowledge and skills, use them effectively, and address the clear conservation challenges in a smooth and ultimately successful manner. Despite this lingering problem, there are a growing number of examples wherein people are picking up the new tools and applying them in the field with good effect. These innovative practice-based programs are
This special issue of Endangered Species UPDATE is the culmination
of an extended program of research, education, and practice in interdisciplinary
endangered species conservation. In addition to authoring a number of the
following articles, we are practitioners of interdisciplinary problem solving
methods in endangered species conservation. We have
studied, taught, and practiced these methods in endangered species recovery programs in the United States and
abroad for more than 25 years. We present this special issue for practitioners, teachers, and students of endangered
species conservation in the hopes that it will help inspire more innovative, practical, and effective conservation. In this light, the articles presented herein reflect the efforts of their authors to clarify, promote, and practice endangered species conservation by scrupulously integrating the many variables falling under the aegis of endangered species "research," "management," and "policy."
This special issue is the latest in a series of publications in Endangered Species UPDATE that we began in 1988. The purpose of this series is to introduce practitioners and students of endangered species conservation to ideas and professional tools useful for increasing their effectiveness and efficiency. This issue is divided into three sections, entitled "Concepts," "Applications," and "Cases," totaling 19 articles. We have reprinted all previously published papers in this series and added eight new ones featuring additional work on conceptual approaches, ways to apply innovative methods in practice, and case applications illustrating the use of these methods.
The first section, Concepts, introduces the reader to the theories that underlie interdisciplinary conservation. These theories are based in a discipline known as the policy sciences (Lasswell 1971; Lasswell and McDougal 1992). The policy sciences are "simultaneously a theory about society and a method of inquiry into problems and associated social
and decision processes" (Clark 2002:ix). They are immediately practical when applied to improving endangered
species recovery efforts. The Concepts section contains six papers that describe specific theories and their utility to endangered species conservation. These include:
Taken together, these concepts provide a foundation for understanding
the policy sciences and showing how they
can promote greater efficiency, equitability, and effectiveness in conserving species and improving the outcomes
of species protection programs.
Papers in the Concepts section that appeared previously in Endangered Species UPDATE include those on decision processes (1996), the human social process (1998), problem orientation (1999), standpoint clarification (1999), and integrating multiple methods (1999).
The Applications section of this issue features eight papers illustrating
ways of applying the policy sciences' concepts in practice. The policy sciences
are a branch of knowledge separate from either the physical/natural or the
social sciences, and are sometimes referred as the "science of integration."
The purpose of these papers is to create a bridge between the concepts and
cases and to provide insight into how practitioners may use the policy sciences'
integrative tools to
improve decision-making and program implementation processes. These papers include practical examples of
policy sciences concepts being used by professionals in governmental natural resource agencies, non-governmental
organizations, and academia. Among the topics covered are:
Papers in the Applications section that have appeared previously in Endangered
Species UPDATE include
the chapters on implementing recovery policy (1988), PVA (1990), organization and management (1991), reintroduction (1991), professional practice using a policy orientation (1992), prototyping (1995), and learning (1996).
The third section, Cases, features five new analyses of efforts to protect species or ecosystems of special concern. These case studies illustrate ways in which the policy sciences may be used by analysts and practitioners to evaluate and improve complex programs. Each case features one or more of the policy sciences concepts introduced in the first section of this issue. They are also intended to complement the policy sciences applications presented in the issue's second section. In the Applications section, the respective authors demonstrate how to use policy sciences concepts in practice. In the cases that follow, the authors use the analytical tools of the policy sciences to evaluate various programs and make recommendations for improvement. The cases address far-ranging conservation topics, including:
This special issue of Endangered Species UPDATE was created to provide guidance, where possible, for endangered species and ecosystem conservation efforts by providing ideas and direction for practitioners and analysts. Each article represents efforts by its author(s) to share their experiences using the policy sciences. Accepting new and in some cases
radically different approaches to endangered species program design, implementation, and evaluation is a daunting challenge. We hope that the information in this issue will help reveal the utility in the approaches we espouse. In the concluding paper we describe how you might begin to apply these approaches and invite you to share with us your experiences using them. Finally, the literature cited throughout this issue can guide you to more complete descriptions and many other case applications.
This special issue would not have been possible without the guidance, assistance, and support of the staff of Endangered Species UPDATE: Beth Hahn, Jennifer Jacobus MacKay, and Misty McPhee. Other people assisted
us with various aspects of this endeavor, including Denise Casey and Brian Miller. Funding was provided by the Denver Zoological Foundation, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Ursinus College, and Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Many individuals and charitable organizations aided publication of this special issue, including those that provided support to the Denver Zoological Foundation and Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, including Catherine Patrick, Gilman Ordway, Hope and Bob Stevens and the Fanwood Foundation, the Wiancko Charitable Foundation, Kathe Henry and the Scott Opler Foundation, and Stephen and Amy Unfried. We also want to recognize the many people we have worked with us as co-workers in the field and in the classroom.
Clark, T.W. 2002. The policy process: a practical guide for natural resource professionals.Yale University Press, New Haven,Connecticut.
Clark, T.W., R.P. Reading, and A.L. Clarke, eds. 1994. Endangered species recovery: finding the lessons, improving the process.Island Press, Washington, D.C.
Clark, T.W., A.R. Willard, and C.M. Cromley, eds. 2000. Foundations of natural resources policy and management. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
Clark, T.W., M. Stevenson, K. Ziegelmayer, and M. Rutherford, eds. 2001. Species and ecosystem conservation: an interdisciplinary approach. Yale School Of Forestry & Environmental Studies Bulletin 105:1-276. www.yale.edu/environment/publications
Lasswell, H.D. 1971. A pre-view of the policy sciences. American Elsevier Publishing Company, New York.
Lasswell, H.D. and M.S. McDougal. Jurisprudence for a free society. New Haven Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
Reading, R.P. and B. Miller, eds. 2000. Endangered species: A reference guide to conflicting issues. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut.